This article was updated on April 10.
Unlike most countries in the world, Sweden has no lockdown approach to Covid-19. Since March 24th, people can no longer be served at the counter in cafés and restaurants as usual – service is provided directly at the table and tables are separated by some distance. Ski resorts remain open, but cable cars are closed. These arrangements may seem minor, as they are not at all in line with what is happening elsewhere in the world. How come?
What is the situation in Sweden?
On April 9th, Sweden had 9,141 reported cases of Covid-19 patients, 719 people in intensive care and 793 deaths.
68% of those presenting symptoms are over 50 years old. 55% of the deceased were older than 80 years old.
By way of comparison, Denmark and Norway, two neighbouring countries and both in lockdown, recorded 5,635 and 6,142 reported cases of illness, and 237 and 105 deaths respectively. We are starting to see shifts in the dynamics of contamination in these three countries, which have adopted different strategies.
As elsewhere, cases in Sweden are increasing daily. Up-to-date figures are continuously released by the Swedish National Public Health Authority on its website.
How are the population and the State reacting to the crisis?
To the astonishment of European neighbours who, for some, have been paralysed for several weeks now, Sweden is operating "normally" for the most part - notwithstanding a few additional precautionary measures announced by the government. Even the Netherlands, whose population isn’t under lockdown either, has adopted stricter measures, including schools and restaurants’ closures and a ban on gatherings.
In Sweden, schools from kindergarten to primary, and even lower secondary, remain open while high schools and universities are now closed. Major summer concerts, such as the musician Håkan Hellström’s tour, are now being postponed at the request of epidemiologists in the Swedish press. For now, gatherings can continue provided they are limited to 50 people which means restaurants remain open, although this is less and less the case for bars. Citizens aged 70 or over are encouraged to stay at home, but everyone else may go out, provided they avoid unnecessary travel. This includes the Easter holidays of course, for which Swedes are encouraged to stay where they are, but remain free to choose for themselves what seems best. The Minister of Social Affairs said publicly on April 7 that during this festive period, isolated people should not "have to feel needlessly alone".